4 Dangerously Dark (and Delicious) Drinks You Need to Try on Halloween
Welcome to the dark side of cocktails.
If gorging on sugary candy sounds like a nightmare, consider celebrating the scariest night of the year with some of the most dangerously delicious dark libations ever made.
RECIPE: 10 Creepy Halloween Cocktails to Spook Your Guests
Halloween is not only the perfect excuse to play dress-up, but it’s also a popular holiday for decadent parties. And if you happen to be hosting your own monster bash this year, dumping vodka into a hollowed-out pumpkin just won’t do. But if the idea of getting too creative with festive-looking cocktails sounds like a major chore, don’t fret — bartenders have been experimenting with a new trend by shaking things up with activated charcoal.
It’s being reported that this unlikely ingredient "dramatic color, bitter smoky flavor and granular texture to food and drinks." And while activated charcoal — defined here as "regular charcoal that has been heated with gas in order to form pores" — has been hailed for its alleged health benefits (e.g., reducing gas, preventing hangovers), it "hasn’t been evaluated in enough studies to prove its effectiveness in other uses."
That doesn't mean we can't throw it in our drinks, though.
READ: The Newest Trend in Detoxing? Drinking Charcoal
"My reason for using activated charcoal in a cocktail was purely aesthetic," explains Jim Kearns, bar director and partner of New York City’s Slowly Shirley, who created the frightfully delightful Perla Negra. "I also wanted to create a cocktail with activated charcoal for a while, because I had seen a few at other bars and really appreciated the visual impact they had, along with the way they play with one's perception of how they will taste."
"For instance, in the case of the Perla Negra, the cocktail is jet black, served in a large, skull-shaped bowl, topped with blood-red sorrel, and yet it is a bright, exotic, tropical drink with a fruity, floral flavor profile," he adds.
If you’re hesitant about painting it too black with your drinks, Kearns assures us that the small amount of activated charcoal used in his recipe "is only there for looks," and in general, it’s recommended you go small with the amount. And if you’re still shaking in your Puss in Boots costume's boots, we even threw in an alternative that’s just as gruesome and tasty.
Get the party started by making your own fightful concoction below:
Fade to Black
1 Tbsp. activated charcoal powder
1 bottle light rum (mixologist used STARR Ultra Superior Light Rum)
.5 oz. ginger syrup
.25 oz. fresh lemon juice
.25 oz. fresh lime juice
.5 oz. simple syrup
.5 oz. chartreuse
1 rosemary sprig
First, create "black rum" by dissolving activated charcoal powder in bottle of light rum. When ready to make a cocktail, add 1.5 oz. of black rum to a cocktail shaker along with syrups and citrus juices. Shake. Add chartreuse and shake again. Strain contents into a glass filled with ice and garnish with a fresh sprig of rosemary.*
*Recipe has been modified slightly from the original.
(Created by Martin McLoughlin for David Burke Kitchen)
2 oz. añejo rum (mixologist used Santa Teresa 1796)
.5 tsps. activated charcoal
1 oz. calamansi juice (fresh lime juice can be used instead)
1 oz. orange juice
.5 oz. honey
.5 oz. ginger
1 oz. arrack (a spirit distilled from the sap of the coconut flower)
2 oz. sorrel (a drink made with hibiscus flowers)
Orchids (for garnish)
1 votive candle (for garnish)
Add activated charcoal to shaker filled with three large ice cubes. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the sorrel and the garnishes. Shake and strain over crushed ice into a glass. Pack a lit votive candle into the crushed ice on top of the cocktail. Measure and pour the sorrel around the candle. Garnish with orchids.
(Created by Jim Kearns for Slowly Shirley in New York City)
Heart of Darkness
1 jar of raspberry preserves
5 tsps. activated charcoal
1½ oz. blanco tequila (mixologist used Cimarrón Blanco Tequila)
.5 oz. mezcal (mixologist used Koch Espadin Mezcal)
.5 oz. lime juice
.5 oz. agave syrup
1 dash bitters (mixologist used Bittermens Mole Bitters)
orchid (for garnish)
Create activated charcoal raspberry preserves by adding 1 jar of raspberries preserves and 5 teaspoons of charcoal in a immersion blender and blend. Add 2 teaspoons of the charcoal jam to a cocktail shaker filled with ice, followed by the tequila, mezcal, lime, agave and bitters. Pour into a snifter filled with crushed ice. Garnish with orchid.
(Created by Courtney Colarik for Pouring Ribbons NYC)
Charcoal-Free Alternative: Classic Rotten Pumpkin
4 oz. orange juice
1.5 oz. black vodka*
1 orange slice
Fill a glass with ice. Pour orange juice halfway up the glass. Slowly add the black vodka by pouring it over the back of the a spoon. (This will help create a layered effect.) Garnish with orange slice dipped in black vodka.
*Black vodka can be purchased online or in liquor stores, but you can also create your own by adding droplets of black food coloring on the clear vodka of your choosing.